Los Angeles Chargers vs. Tennessee Titans Matchup Preview 10/20/2019: Analysis, Depth Charts, Picks, Daily Fantasy

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The Los Angeles Chargers (2-4) and Tennessee Titans (2-4) look to rebound from tough starts to the regular season, as they as they go head to head at Nissan Stadium. Both these teams are on a two-game losing skid with their playoff chances dwindling with every loss. For the Chargers, this season has gone from one of hope and Super Bowl aspirations to an underwhelming and puzzling campaign. After starting 2-2, they have lost two straight games, and are currently 3rd in the AFC West. This game against the Titans fares to be a pivotal game for the Chargers. If they win and the Raiders lose, they’ll be tied for 2nd in the division. Although, if they lose, they will be tied for 4th place with the Broncos, who hold a tiebreaker against the Chargers. Likewise, the Titans need to win this game to keep up with the Colts and Texans, who are one and two games ahead of Tennessee, respectively. Moreover, a Titans loss coupled with a Jaguars win would solidify the Titans as 4th in the AFC South and make it incredibly impossible for them to win the division or clinch a wildcard playoff spot. For Odds Movement full matchup details on the Los Angeles Chargers at Tennesee Titans matchup.

TV Schedule

Date: Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019
Time: 4:05 PM ET
Location: Nissan Stadium – Nashville, TN
Coverage: CBS

Injury Report

Los Angeles Chargers: Nasir Adderley (Q), Travis Benjamin (IR), Brandon Mebane (Q), Trent Scott (Q), Justin Jones (Q), Justin Jackson (Q), Melvin Ingram (Q), Mike Pouncey (IR), Dontrelle Inman (IR), Sean Culkin (IR), Adrian Phillips (IR), Brant Weiss (Q), Derwin James (IR), Andrew Vollert (IR), Tre’Von Johnson (IR), Dylan Cantrell (IR), Koda Martin (IR), Dillon DeBoer (Q), Brock Hekking (Q)

Tennessee Titans: Daren Bates (Q), Jurrell Casey (Q), Delanie Walker (Q), Cameron Wake (Q), Sharif Finch (Q), Chris Milton (Q), Jayon Brown (Q), David Fluellen (IR), Ryan Succop (IR), Joshua Kalu (IR), Jordan Williams (IR), D’Andre Walker (IR), Cameron Batson (IR)

Los Angeles Chargers Analysis

Los Angeles ChargersThe Los Angeles Chargers have had a rocky start to the 2019 season. According to the LA Times, the Chargers have not held the lead against an opposing team since the end of September [2]. Part of LA’s issue has been their difficulty to run the football, with running backs Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler struggling to rush for over 3.5 yards/carry the past three games. While head coach Anthony Lynn has vehemently stated that Melvin Gordon isn’t the issue, it’s hard to argue that his return has been anything less than a disappointment [2]. The Chargers are 1-2 since Melvin Gordon ended his holdout, and their lone win came with Gordon seeing no playing time against the Miami Dolphins [3].

In the two games that Gordon has played this year, he has only had 20 carries for 49 yards. To make matters worse, Gordon is only averaging 1.3 yards after contact/carry, which is abysmal for a running back of Gordon’s caliber. Currently, Gordon has a -24 DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) compared to Austin Ekeler -9 DYAR [4]. For context, DYAR measures the value of a RB’s performance on plays where this he carried/caught the ball, compared to replacement level. While Ekeler’s DYAR is better than Gordon’s, they are a combined -33 DYAR yards worse than the average replacement running back would be.

Much like their offense, the Chargers defense has been lackluster this season, with the unit having a 10.4% DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average), which ranks 27th in the NFL [6]. DVOA compiles every play throughout the NFL season, and measures how well defenses play based on situations such as red-zone or 3rd down plays, however unlike DYAR, a negative DVOA means a defensive unit is faring better than a group with a positive DVOA [5]. Most of their struggles are linked to their inability to stop opposing passing attacks, with their passing, defensive efficiency rating ranking 27th in the NFL. The good news for the Chargers is that the Titans have struggled to move the ball through the air, so they should see more success in week 7.

Los Angeles Chargers Depth Chart

QB: Philip Rivers
RB1: Melvin Gordon
RB2: Austin Ekeler
WR1: Keenan Allen
WR2: Mike Williams
WR3: Geremy Davis
TE: Hunter Henry

Tennessee Titans Analysis

Tennessee TitansSimilar to the Chargers, the Titans have also struggled offensively, ranking 26th in the NFL for yards/game and 27th in points/game [1]. Most of the issue has been Marcus Mariota’s inability to be a capable signal-caller, ranking 30th in terms of passing yards/game and 29th in terms of QBR [1]. While Mariota’s 7-2 TD: INT ratio doesn’t look too shabby, his stats have been better than his overall play. According to playerprofile.com, Mariota has thrown eight interceptable passes on the year, which puts him amongst the middle of the NFL’s quarterbacks [7]. Also, Mariota has struggled to move the ball through the air, averaging 4.0 completed air yards a game, which ranks 20th in the league.

After witnessing enough of Mariota’s poor play, the Titans decided to bench the 5th year veteran for Ryan Tannehill [9]. However, if Tannehill is going to have any success against the Chargers, he’s going to need his offensive line to improve their pass protection. The Chargers rank 21st when it comes to sack rate in the NFL and have given up 16 sacks on the year [8]. Moreover, this offensive line has failed to create holes for their running backs. As a result, Chargers running backs get stopped at or behind the line of scrimmage on 21% of their runs [8], which ranks 23rd in the league [8].

On the defensive side of the ball, the Titans have managed pretty well throughout the regular season. They currently rank in the top ten in terms of total and run defensive efficiency [5]. Although, one way in which they could assist their offense is by trying to get more turnovers. They currently only have eight turnovers in 2019, which ranks 20th in the NFL [10]. If this team wants to control field position and provide a surge for their offense, they need to force and recover more fumbles and be more ball hawkish in the passing game.

Tennessee Titans Depth Chart

QB: Ryan Tannehill
RB1: Derrick Henry
RB2: Dion Lewis
WR1: Corey Davis
WR2: A.J. Brown
WR3: Adam Humphries
TE: Delanie Walker

Daily Fantasy

Fantasy owners should be cautious with starting Melvin Gordon in week 7. While he has garnered the most targets and touches of all the Chargers running backs the past two weeks, he has only averaged 43 scrimmage yards/game since week 5 [cite]. He also only has a 50.8 opportunity share, which is 29th amongst qualifying running backs [7]. The only positive of starting Gordon is the fact that the Titans are currently giving up about 22 fantasy points/game to opposing running backs. Gordon projects to be a decent flex option with a modest boom potential. After starting the 2019 fantasy season off exceptionally well, Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen has come back down to earth the past three weeks.

Week 7 fares to be one of Allen’s most challenging weeks of 2019, as he goes against one of the stingiest secondaries when it comes to allowing WR fantasy points. Allen has a decent potential for a boom game because he leads the Chargers in terms of target share. However, his recent slump and difficulty finding the end zone the past few weeks makes him a WR2 option at best. Fantasy owners should steer away from starting Delanie Walker in week 7. Walker has had a rollercoaster fantasy outing this season and has failed to gain 10+ points the past three weeks. Given the offensive line struggles and a recent change at the quarterback position, Walker will have a tough time getting into synch with new starting QB, Ryan Tannehill.

It’s best to leave Walker on your bench and see how he fares in week 7. Derrick Henry is a solid RB2 option for week 7. Even though Henry had his worst outing last week, this was mostly due to the complete overhaul at the QB position and bad performance from the offense in general. Henry’s matchup against the Chargers looks to be a good rebound game because the Chargers are having trouble stopping the run. Besides, Henry has managed to rush for 100+ yards or score a touchdown in every game this season.

References:
[1] https://www.espn.com/nfl/stats/player/_/table/passing/sort/QBRating/dir/desc
[2] https://www.latimes.com/sports/chargers/story/2019-10-15/slumping-chargers-havent-been-scoring-and-havent-led-in-a-game-since-september
[3]https://www.espn.com/blog/nflnation/post/_/id/301093/melvin-gordon-watches-short-handed-chargers-tame-dolphins
[4] https://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/rb/2019
[5]https://www.footballoutsiders.com/info/methods
[6] https://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/teamdef/2019
[7] https://www.playerprofiler.com/nfl/
[8] https://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/ol/2019
[9] https://www.espn.com/blog/tennessee-titans/post/_/id/28780/why-the-titans-turned-to-tannehill-and-whats-next-for-mariota
[10] https://www.footballdb.com/stats/turnovers.html?sort=taketot

I am a junior at Morehouse College, majoring in economics. I have experience as a data analyst at Pro Football Focus and as a football scouting intern at Fanteractive.com. I enjoy scouting and analyzing NCAAF and NFL games, especially quarterback and running back play.

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